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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Schematism: Poetics on the Way to Kant, 1760–1790
by Morrow, Susan, Ph.D., Yale University, 2019, 200; 13809939
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation, "Schematism: Poetics on The Way to Kant, 1760–1790", argues that Kant's notoriously obscure theory of schematism is structured not only by certain problems arising from within his own account of the conditions of possibility for knowledge but also by the implications of a reconfigured relation between movement and form in a variety of artistic and poetic practices in the mid to late 18th century. I claim that this reconfiguration consisted, first, in the interpretation of movement as an indexical sign of affect, second, in the identification of movement as an exemplification or realization of affect, and, third, in the re-articulation of movement's exemplifying function as an act conditioned by a quasi-perceptual cognitive capacity: the faculty of imagination. To demonstrate this progression, I turn, respectively, to J.-G. Noverre's conception of ballet as pantomime in his Lettres sur la dance (1760), F.G. Klopstock's ice-skating odes and his poetological concept of "Wortbewegung" (1764–79), and G.E. Lessing's division of the arts according to their means of producing "Illusion" in Laokoon (1766). I then argue that Kant's epistemological concern with the possibility of applying concepts to objects of experience is itself conditioned by Lessing's reframing of the artwork's realization or exemplification of movement as an act of imagination. My dissertation thereby reveals an unexpected genealogy for Kant's concept of a "Schema"—that "third thing", neither concept nor intuition, which mediates the subsumption of appearances under the categories in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781), and which is identified in the Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790) as the mode of "Darstellung" to which the symbolic mode of the aesthetic is contrasted.

According to my central thesis, Kant's theory of schematism accounts for the possibility of a judgment entailed by an act newly disclosed by Lessing's aesthetics and newly performed by a poetry like Klopstock's in its realization of a relation between movement and affect that exceeded the one on which Noverre had based his "ballets d'action". For different reasons, both Noverre and Klopstock conceived of dance and poetry as arts capable of moving an audience by means of their own movement. For Noverre, movement's efficacy was tied to its status as a representation qua natural sign of affect, its representation of affect grounded in the latter's own nature. Movement was the direct expression of affect in the sense that it stood in relation to it both as an effect to a cause and as a cause to an effect. For Klopstock, by contrast, the expressive relation between movement and affect no longer pertained to the status of their relation as signifier and signified or relatedly to the status of movement as a representation. Instead, movement assumed the function of embodying or enacting the very thing in which affect consisted. It is this kind of "expression"—an exemplification in which affect itself is realized—which Lessing presupposes, I argue, for his definition of illusion, the aesthetic effect par excellence. Whereas, for Klopstock, however, this effect consists in the arousal of affect, for Lessing it becomes cognitive in nature. For him, I claim, the reception of poetry and painting generates an "Illusion" to the extent that it realizes—in the recipient's imagination—the thing denoted by the artwork in question, and in so doing, produces an image. The implicit positing of the image's realization-function, I contend, in turn corresponds to the judgment whose possibility Kant's schematism is supposed to explain: the subsumption of an intuition under a concept. Consequently, I argue, Kant's chapter on schematism in the first Critique presupposes, as a "Bild", something which is not a representation in the classical sense, but is rather more like Klopstock's "Wortbewegung". Building on this conclusion, I show, in the final analysis, that Kant's later distinction between schematic and symbolic "Darstellung" derives a representational mode of "Darstellung" from a more primary, schematic one. Through its various engagements with Noverre, Klopstock, Lessing, and Kant, what my project thereby traces is the emergence of a theory of judgment consonant with a performative understanding of artistic and poetic form.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Campe, Rüdiger, Franks, Paul
Commitee: Campe, Rüdiger, Franks, Paul, North, Paul
School: Yale University
Department: Germanic Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: German literature
Keywords: Aesthetics, Darstellung, Kant, Performativity, Poetics, Schema
Publication Number: 13809939
ISBN: 9781088316320
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